Open educational resources (OERs) and practices (OER&P) have been and are being used to support the social inclusion of such at-risk groups. Combined with online access, they represent a way for displaced people, with little technological infrastructure, to acquire knowledge and skills relevant to their new environments and demands. One problem here for these users is not the lack of resources but the large number of them available and finding an effective way to assess the relevance of a given OER&P before starting to use it. A solution for this problem may be found in the use of appropriate metadata.
It is widely accepted that metadata play a fundamental role in the classification of OERs, in a similar way as for other types of learning objects, so that searches undertaken on collections can effectively identify resources relevant to users’ needs. Such searches, as noted by Ushakova (2015), cannot only be based upon key words, which are neither always effective nor practical, since a lot of resources are non-textual. Furthermore, differences in the use of metadata to classify OERs and subsequently by users to search for them, can hinder their effectiveness.
The research and subsequent discussion presented in this paper, arose out of the need identified in this project for a different type of metadata directly relevant for MENA refugees and migrants whose educational and socio-cultural needs require finer grained information than that currently used for OER metadata, coming from standards such as LOM and DC. Culture underpins attitudes to such fundamental issues as risk, individualism, reward, authority and purpose, and these determine attitudes to specific pedagogic techniques such as games-based learning, group projects, role-play, simulation, project-based learning and quizzes. Culture, expressed at a national or ethnic level, may be a crude measure of likely local or individual pedagogic success but could nevertheless be useful as a way to improve the alignment between OER and a wider range of learners.
Some initial steps have been undertaken in this area for learning scenarios (Pawlowski & Richter, 2007) but the authors argue that effective metadata would need to be more extensive and include culturally specific, linguistic, techno-pedagogic, and contextually relevant information, not suffering from any habitual European institutional bias.
Pawlowski, J. M., & Richter, T. (2007). Context and Culture Metadata: A Tool for the Internationalization of E-Learning. -MEDIA, 4528-4537.
Ushakova, S. 2015. “Usability of Metadata Standards for Open Educational Resources.” https://hclemuseum.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/usability-of-metadata-standards-for-open-educational-resources/